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All Aboard the Social CRM Train

Brian Jameson

Social CRM, SCRM, the "Social Customer", and probably a few more acronyms and terms that I’m failing to leave out is all the rage right now in CRM circles within enterprises. The rise of the Social Customer has created new ways of engaging companies and customers alike. Outsourcers have been late to this party, but that’s about to change.

Still looking for a SCRM definition? Paul Greenberg, author of CRM at the Speed of Light, defines it best in my opinion.....

Social CRM is a philosophy and a business strategy, supported by a technology platform, business rules, processes and social characteristics, designed to engage the customer in a collaborative conversation in order to provide mutually beneficial value in a trusted and transparent business environment. It is the company's response to the customer's ownership of the conversation.

Regardless of the definition, acronym, or term, Contact Center Business Process Outsourcers (BPOs) should be jumping on the Social CRM train sooner rather than later. Yes, it’s still early on in the Social CRM lifecycle and a lot still needs to happen before we arrive at the "Plateau of Productivity" if you are accustomed to reading Gartner Hype Cycles. But here are a few early indicators that should have you running to the nearest SCRM Train Station to get on board…

1.Twitter is attracting 200 million visitors per month and generating 70 million Tweets a day. This number will only grow. I still don’t understand how Twitter makes money, but they have a great platform for particular customer service needs. An April 2010 study by ROI Research commissioned by Performics found that, "at least once a week, 33% of active Twitter users share opinions about companies or products, while 32% make recommendations and 30% ask for them." Twitter is an additional channel for Outsourcers to engage their clients’ customers and answer support related questions.

2. Enterprises will adopt Social Media as a support channel. DMG Consulting predicts that by the end of 2014, more than 45% of contact centers will have integrated some type of social media support (i.e. monitoring social networking sites for mentions of a company/product, responding to blog or Twitter posts with an invitation to participate in a survey, or incorporating tweets as a means of communicating directly with the contact center). Additionally, according Burson-Marsteller Communications Group, 79% of the Fortune 100 are present and listening, using at least of one of the main social platforms to communicate with their customers. This opens up avenues for new revenue growth for Outsourcers targeting these enterprises as potential clients who may not want to support social media internally. It also provides an up-sell opportunity for current clients.

3.Contact Center BPO’s should get on board before their competitors do. The most notable partnership to date between Outsourcers and Social CRM is the TeleTech and Lithium strategic partnership to support Social CRM activities for clients. Additionally, Gartner has predicted that Contact Center BPO’s will increase their offerings of bundled services. This is setting the stage for a battle around Social CRM offerings amongst Outsourcers. However, there will be a lull before the storm that will allow the early adopters to reap the highest margins and capture market share. The key is to get jump on board sooner rather than later.

Social CRM should be viewed by Outsourcers as a way to provide your clients with better cross-channel customer interactions and a more well rounded CRM strategy in general. Social CRM will never replace CRM; it will only make it better for you and your clients. Outsourcers who can respond quickly to this market transformation will reap the benefits and be positioned better when things really get heated around Social CRM and BPO.